Celebrated South African Gospel artist and Jesus lover Israel Mosehla died unexpectedly last Sunday at the age of 50.
News of his death after a short illness sent shock waves throughout South Africa on Monday morning with many of his followers sending their condolences on social media.
Mosehla was considered one of the few true worshipers in the South African Gospel music industry. Many have referred to him as a worshiper of worshipers.
Mosehla was born in Soweto to a family of musicians and preachers who had their start singing at functions and church events. They were signed by Gallo and released three albums in the 1980s.
With this early introduction to music when he was only 10 the young Israel soon was part of a youth band called G Effect which also featured his brother, Isaiah and his friends Bongani Matsobane and Jabu Nkabinde.
G Effect toured South Africa and ministered in the United States of America; United Kingdom and Brazil.
In 2007 Israel pursued a solo career releasing his first album Nzulu which was produced by Sipho Makhabane and Ringo Mkhari. He won several awards including Best Praise Album for Praise and Worship Encounter with Israel Mosehla at the Crown Gospel Music Awards.
He soon opened his own record label Kgabo Music Productions, and released the album Endaweni Ephakeme. Many other albums followed and with them a growing number of followers who were touched and impacted by his ministry and love for God and His Word.
Israel was very quick to remind his followers that he was a product of grace.
He was a role model to many artists in the Gospel entertainment industry. As a devoted husband (29 years married at the time of his passing) and father Israel conducted many marriage and family seminars with his wife Millicent.
He preached about the sanctity of marriage and advocated that marriage was God-ordained and should be upheld in high regard, a belief he lived by.
He also taught men to be involved in how their children are raised. He said it was his responsibility as a father to teach his children right from wrong.
“It is important for a family to live and base everything they do on biblical principles.”
He shared a story where he was praying and his daughter mentioned the “God of my father”. Israel asked her: “Why do you say the God of my Father?” and she said: “Because I have seen God do things for you and if He was with you then He will be with me”. Israel said: “We speak about God and unfortunately our kids do not see God in us. How do you expect your kids to follow this God when they don’t see this God in you?”
At the virtual memorial service hosted from the Sandton AOG by his fellow Gospel colleagues, speaker after speaker spoke of how Israel loved his wife and children who he affectionately called the Israelites.
Thami Ngubeni, who was the programme director for the service, described Mosehla as “father, brother, leader, husband and son, who has impacted our lives in so many different ways”.
“That which God had placed in him found its way to you. It brought you healing. He brought you comfort. He brought you jubilation. He brought you close to our God. He brought you close to the One he served. You would be correct if you called him servant of God,” she said.
Thami called the service a thanksgiving “because the word of God reminds us that those who are in the Lord cannot mourn like those who are of the earth and the reason we cannot mourn is because we have been assured of an eternal life.”
Thousands of his followers joined the memorial service on Facebook Live to watch as his fellow colleagues shared memories of working with the Gospel star.
From award winner Bishop Benjamin Dube to Dumi Mkokstad, Zaza Mokhethi and Jabu Hlongwane, they all spoke of a man who gave his all to the work of the Lord. In 1988 to 1990 Israel was part of Benjamin Dube’s band as a drummer.
“He truly had a heart of worship”, Bishop Dube said. Dumi said Israel was real. Zaza shared how Mosehla was a big brother he approached for advice when she wanted to navigate being a solo artist.
Israel taught his colleagues not to turn God’s house into an entertainment space, “It is so sad that we have turned the house of God into an entertainment place when it is not. God is not seeking an entertainer. He is seeking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. When you come into the house of the Lord you come with an expectation. God is not a God of entertaining but a God that means business,” he taught.
His colleagues spoke of a man who loved to laugh. He was always smiling. Sipho Makhabane a friend and colleague of more than 20 years shared that Israel spent two months last year in Mpumalanga helping him with his latest projects, one of which was to discover and mentor young talent.
Makhabane shared of Israel’s humble beginning, working at correctional services before releasing his album and embarking on a solo career. After that album Israel stopped working at correctional services and said to Makhabane: “Mkhulu I want to focus on my ministry.” Makhabane said that a soldier had fallen and it was up to the other Gospel artists to take up the fight and carry on.
Another well-respected fellow musician, Solly Mahlangu, who had worked with Israel, reminded the Church: “Israel has done his part. We are living in difficult times where your title does not matter anymore; your fame does not matter; your position does not matter. What matters right now is: do you know Jesus? Do you know God? Do you know the Holy Spirit? It would be a great tragedy to sing everybody to Heaven and not make it. This is a time to introspect. Find out where we stand with God.”
Israel’s older sister Nokuthula Ledabe shared some memories of her brother and what he meant to her. She says that Israel was a very jolly person, a humble person. “We used to fight with him, argue as siblings but within few minutes we would laugh again. He was a person who liked to joke.”
She shared her pain at losing her younger brother and how it was difficult for her to make sense of the Scriptures at this time. “In the book of Thessalonians 5, it says ‘Give thanks in everything’ and you start to question: How can I give thanks when my brother is gone? How can I give thanks when I will never see that face again? I will never see that smile again. As a family we will miss him.
“We thank God for his life. We thank God for giving us a brother like Israel. What I like most about Israel is that he loved his family. He loved his wife. He loved his children. He would say they are the are the Israelites.”
Even at this dark time in her life she still testifies about God. “God is still God. He is not changed by the situation. He is not changed by anything. He remains being God.” she said
Israel’s funeral service was held at Koinonia Bible Church and the Word was shared by Bishop TA Ralekholela. He taught about the mystery of life and death. Ralekholela said that God has given man the knowledge to interpret everything but has hidden what happens “on the other side of the curtain”. He said: “There is life after the grave. We are not living to be hidden in a grave. Mosehla is watching us in eternity. He is concealed under the wings of God. There is life after death.”
Late December Israel recorded a special message to the Church, “2020 has been a difficult year but I have experienced the favour of God. I have experienced the grace of God throughout the whole year. As we go into 2021 I believe that God will restore and rebuild that which was broken. Let’s go to 2021 with an expectation that God is going to take us to another level. I pray that you continue to serve Him faithfully. I pray that you stay in the bountiness of His grace. God is faithful and He loves you so much.”
Celeste Mosehla his daughter wrote a special message on her Instagram account about the passing of her father: “I don’t know how this happened. I don’t know where to begin. Dad, I will forever carry you in my heart. Thank you for all the things you have taught me. Thank you for constantly proving that there is absolutely nothing you wouldn’t do for us. You were such a pillar. You were such a strong man. Your faith in God was absolutely insane.
“I promise to carry and remember all your testimonies, especially when it gets tough. I’ve seen so much of God in your life, and I believe that He will never leave me, just as much as He never left you. I honestly don’t know how I’m gonna go on without you, but I believe that God will pull me through, He will pull all of us through. I love you forever and ever King. RIP”
Outside Israel Mosehla’s house stands a very tall cross and at his funeral there was a cross at his side. He will be sadly missed but gladly remembered.
Where he went is where we who are in Christ are going.
Israel Mosehla is survived by his wife Millicent Mosehla and their six children, Lesego, Tshegofatso, Katlego, Kagiso, Keitumetse and Gontse.